Founder and president of two businesses, Miss Bottles and MonOliver.ca, and executive director of the international wine championship Sélections Mondiales des Vins Canada, Nancy Rossi is an entrepreneur who sees opportunity everywhere. For the last few months, she has been president of l’Association des gens d’affaires (AGA) of Brossard, where she works tirelessly to promote a sense of community among businesspeople in the region. Keep reading to learn more about Ms. Rossi’s fascinating career path between Italy and Quebec, Actif’s contribution as an accounting software to the restructuration of AGA Brossard, and why Quebec is the ideal place for entrepreneurs who dream of setting up a SME (small and medium enterprises).
Thank you for giving us this interview today, Ms. Rossi. You grew up and studied in Italy before moving to Quebec, and since then, you’ve been quite busy! Could you tell us a bit more about your experience as a businesswoman? And the question we’re all dying to ask: Why did you chose Quebec?
This is a question I’m often asked! Why leave a small fishing village on the Mediterranean Sea for Quebec? The answer is simple: for love. I married a Quebecois I met while I was still an international administration student, and fortunately, we are still married today (laughter).
When I arrived here, in Quebec, I had the opportunity to work for the Italian Trade Commission in Montreal, who promotes Made in Italy abroad. That’s where I discovered my passion for market development and Italian agri-food products, above all, wine.
After holding that position, I offered my services to Sélections Mondiales des Vins Canada, the largest international wine championship in North America. I started twelve years ago, promoting the Canadian championship to oenologists in Italy, and now I am their executive director. We are currently getting ready for our new edition, which will take place in May of 2019, in Quebec City. Each year, between 30 and 35 countries participate, and we have tastings of about 1700 to 2000 products.
It makes you want to learn more about them! In addition to wine, you work with olive oil through your business Mon Olivier, which connects Italy to Quebec. How was this project born?
A few years ago, my parents, still in Italy, were thinking about selling the family land since I was in Canada and my sister in Italy wasn’t interested in it. I thought it was a shame to lose such a treasure that had been in our family for generations, so I offered to take the family olive groves and hire an agronomist to help me from a distance. The 2018 harvest was my third!
What is the concept behind Mon Olivier?
The concept is really quite original. I give the possibility to people from Quebec to sponsor a tree. Since the sponsorship is free, the sponsors commit to purchasing at least one case of olive oil from my olive groves. The beauty of it is that all my olive trees have a name and a personality, and they write a letter to their sponsors every season. For example, they just sent one describing fall, the harvest season.
Wow! It really makes you dream, doesn’t it?
Yes, and there are even some people who write back! The letters really create an emotional bond between the tree and the people. It is important to understand that it’s a way for me to keep these olive trees alive and well, while providing a quality product. The 2018 harvest will be available in Quebec in the spring of 2019. So that’s what I do, I’m immersed in oil and wine!
On top of all that, you’re also president of l’Association des gens d’affaires of Brossard.
Yes! It’s a beautiful story… Four years ago, I didn’t know AGA, and one day I received an invitation in the mail to participate in a contest organized by AGA that ended with a recognition gala for Brossard businesses.
So I mustered the courage to participate, in addition to registering as a member of AGA. In January 2015, I won in the category “Service business with five employees or less”.
That evening gave me a lot of confidence and I loved it so much that I decided to join the board of directors from 2015 to 2018. Last September, I was named president of AGA, and I accepted the position with great pride and honor because it’s an organization that is very important to me.
Who are the members of the organization?
Many of our members are freelance workers and we also have small and medium enterprises. It’s an organization open to all members and we want to promote working and living in Brossard. What differentiates AGA from other organizations is the general atmosphere in our activities. We are like a family of colleagues, of people who want to build relationships here, in Brossard.
L’AGA of Brossard recently entered into an agreement with Actif Software. Could you tell us a bit more?
There are two things in particular that are very positive in this agreement. The first one is that before, we didn’t have an accounting and management software for our organization. We used Excel documents, and the data wasn’t always presented correctly, which could of course have become problematic.
When we were offered this partnership with Actif Software, we immediately seized the opportunity because it gave us a chance to have a well-structured accounting software and management system. But most of all, this agreement gives all members of the board of directors access to the software. In a sense, these two things revolutionized our organization, all thanks to Actif Software. We have been using Actif for five years now, and this gives members of AGA a 10% discount when they sign up, so everybody wins.
(Click here to learn more on how Actif Software can make your life easier, too.)
You seem to be juggling multiple projects and responsibilities with ease. Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs who dream of starting a business?
It’s difficult to give advice since everyone has a different journey. In my case, I came here at 19 years of age knowing only one person, but Quebec gave me a chance. I think it is such a privilege to live in a country where opportunity is everywhere. If you want to go into business, Quebec is the place to be!